Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday 13

I recently discovered the art of a young American living in Japan . He has sold me a trio of his wonderful paintings of Japanese demons, or Yōkai. Here is a list of those soon to be on my wall and ten more of these fascinating beings. His work can be found at

Zashiki-warashi - a playful and childlike spirit, its presence is encouraged for good luck. A common prank is to leave little footsteps in ashes.

Hone-onna - in the guise of a woman, this creature with a skeleton face lures unwitting men to its side and sucks the life force from them.

Yuki-onna - in all its historically ruthless or more modern, forgiving incarnations this "woman" in the snow floats across the landscape luring travelers to their death. Inhumanly beautiful, it has a gaze that can be terrifying.

Nurarihyon – appears as an old man and is very difficult to expel, often mistaken for the owner of the home he inhabits. Some myths consider him the leader of the Yōkai.

Futakuchi-onna – is formed from a human woman who rarely eats. A second mouth appears, spiteful and threatening as it demands food. Eventually it turns the woman's hair into virtual tentacles.

Jorogumo – a spider that can take on the shape of a beautiful woman, it devours unsuspecting men. In Kanji it has two different spellings, one meaning "binding lady" or the even more colorful "whore spider".

Wanyudo – oddly takes the shape of a burning oxcart wheel with a man's face appearing in the center. The former human is usually thought to have been a tyrant punished for his crimes by guarding the gates of hell and gathering unwary souls.

Noppera-bo – can take badger shape, it usually opts to appear human. Who wouldn't if given the choice? These will impersonate the loved one of a victim before the beast causes its face to disappear into a featureless mask. They are considered otherwise harmless.

Gashadokuro – announced by a ringing in one's ear, this giant skeleton will gladly bite off your head. They are created from bones of those who have died of starvation. I'd like to know who would create this fifteen-foot-tall monstrosity.

Basan – this large chicken-like mountain dweller breathes ghostly fire. I'm not sure it's technically a Yōkai, but I like Mathew's illustration.

Ningyo – a form of mermaid with a monkeys mouth and gold scales. The beast's flesh is not only tasty, but is reputed to provide extreme long life. But beware, as the death of one is said to bring ill fate.

Onryō– usually these were women in the mortal world. Made to suffer by volatile lovers, these spirits return amongst the living strong and bent upon vengeance. However, this revenge usually fails to seek the creature's deserving target.

Nuppeppo – haunts ruined temples or graveyard as an unpleasant but relatively harmless hunk of dead, animated flesh.

1 comment:

  1. I am really fond of and fascinated by the Japanese culture. I think it has a certain mystery to it and it is always great fun reading about it.


Thank you for taking time to share your opinion. Hearing from readers adds immensely to my joy of writing!